A Sherman student may soon become a National Merit Scholar. Sherman High School student Nick Estes was recently recognized as the only Grayson County student of nearly 16,000 named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Since the 1950s, the program has recognized students and awarded scholarships based on performance on the Preliminary SAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

“The National Merit Scholarship program is such an awesome opportunity, and I’m ecstatic to even be considered,” Estes said in a news release issued Tuesday. “It’s such an honor to be selected as a semifinalist and now I’ll begin working on my application with my counselors, teachers and administrators right here at SHS.”

Of the 1.6 million entrants that the program receives each year, about 50,000 are selected in September to qualify for the program based on their scores on the tests. About 34,000 of these students receive letters of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, but do not continue in the competition.

The remaining 16,000 students are notified that they are a semifinalist.

“To ensure that academically talented young people from all parts of the United States are included in this talent pool, semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis,” the organization’s website said. “They are the highest scoring entrants in each state.”

To become a finalist, Estes will now go through an application process that will include information on his academic record, extracurricular activities, leadership skills, employment and other awards and honors he has received. He will also need to write an essay and earn scores on the SAT or ACT that confirm his earlier performance.

“The application will be submitted in early October,” he said. “After that, all we can do is collectively keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

Of the 16,000 finalists, about 15,000 will move onto the finalist level and be eligible to a number of scholarships. These awards include 2,500 $2,500 National Merit Scholarships and about 1,000 corporate-sponsored scholarships issued through the organization. About 180 colleges are also expected to finance an additional 4,100 college-sponsored scholarships through the program.

“We are all truly proud of Nick and will fully support him throughout this process,” SHS Principal Jenifer Politi said. “Because of his hard work, he is the first student in years to receive this honor at SHS. He’s a well-rounded student that represents our school and community to the fullest. His entire SHS family is standing behind him and we wish him the best.”